The Babylonians invented it, the Greeks banned it, the Hindus worshipped it, and the Church used it to fend off heretics. Science journalist Seife ...Show synopsisThe Babylonians invented it, the Greeks banned it, the Hindus worshipped it, and the Church used it to fend off heretics. Science journalist Seife follows this innocent-looking number--zero--from its birth as an Eastern philosophical concept to its struggle for acceptance in Europe and transcendence into the West. 75 line drawings.Hide synopsis
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Seife's exploration of the concept of zero, from initial difficulties with characterizing "nothing" with a symbol to dealing with the mathematical impacts of what occurs when your system includes an "empty" quantity, is engaging and compelling. As can be said of numerous ideas (in math and elsewhere), the concept of zero seems almost staggeringly obvious in retrospect; this book makes it possible to understand why it wasn't at all trivial. And then continues to show the importance of and interest in dealing with zero in numerous aspects.
I did long for a bit more weight to the book as a whole, but this may be as much a testament to Seife's style than anything else. I would be thrilled to read more detailed exposition of the place of zero in modern mathematics. But that could just be me...
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